200 of the Greatest Gay Bars in the World
By Out.com Editors
For decades, the first (and only) place where many men and women could meet other gay, lesbian, or transgender people was at a bar, mostly in the shadows. The openly gay bar is a relatively new addition to the social space scene, and it became quite common quite quickly, perhaps, some say, too quickly.
Now, most straight folks have little fear of homosexuality, and gay bars become their joint du jour—to the horror of many men and women who wish they still had their sacred space free of bachelorette parties (read Drew Droege's take on this phenomenon). While we don't think the battle of the dance floor will be won anytime soon (and probably shouldn't even be fought), gay bars, even in the age of social integration and online communities, remain an integral space for LGBT communities the world over.
As with any list, it's impossible to be definitive. We've taken nominations, suggestions, polled friends and experts around the world, and even done a bit of on-the-ground research. We've also tried to arrive at a list that satisfies everyone from a pierced and leather-clad cub to a skinny, go-go boy wannabe. But we're sure that this will only stoke the fires of debate.
So what is the best gay bar in the world?
THE SQUARE: To be fair, Akron isn't known for its hopping gay scene, but The Square would shine even in a more populated city. Roomy without feeling empty, full of friendly folks without being crowded and hip without taking itself too seriously, it's square not to hit this spot when cruising through Akron.
MAD MYRNA'S: You can't see
Alaska Russia from it, but you can see a bevy of hot men at this Anchorage mega-club.
ATLANTA , Georgia
BLAKE'S ON THE PARK: This spot has been a neighborhood institution for decades and remains the hub of Atlanta gayest area, Midtown. Whether it's drag shows or boys in baseball caps, there's usually something for everyone at this watering hole.
CHURCH: Officially known as Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium, Grant Henry's unusual joint has transformed a corner of Edgewood (an underutilized neighborhood near downtown Atlanta) into a hip destination only a few blocks from the Martin Luther King Historic District. Although a straight-friendly hangout, the gay boys pack the place nightly.
HERETIC: After many of the others have come and gone, this remains one of the liveliest (and most scandalous) dance floors in the city—which makes it one of the easiest places to meet someone without having to use an app.
MARY'S : Located in hipsterish East Atlanta Village, Mary’s is well known for its karaoke nights and for attracting the cooler crowds. With strong drinks and a mini dance floor, the flirty bar’s theme nights range from outrageous to downright unsavory: Hanky Code Party, XXXMess, Get Stuffed, and the new drag night, Gurlfrandz.
TEN ATLANTA: A new addition to the scene, Ten Atlanta replaced a beloved hamburger joint downtown, spiffed up the joint with a chic makeover, and now serves up hot beef in food form by day and in go-go boy form by night.
OIL CAN HARRY'S : Open for nearly a quarter of a century, this hotspot hasn't lost its edge—recently attracting the women from RuPual’s Drag Race. In the Warehouse District, DJs spin quirky, creative sets while people swig drinks on patio, cowboys play pool, and University of Texas students go wild during Temptation Thursdays—with an all-male strip off.
HIPPO: No visit to Baltimore's gay scene is complete without Hippo, an institution since its founding in 1972 and for generations of ageless decades has kept the boys glued to their bar stools, gripping pool cues and transfixed by attractive and fun-loving Charm City citizens.
RAINBOW BAR: The name and neo-glo sign outside indicate flamboyant fun, but inside Rainbow Bar is nothing more than a small town saloon, and you've got to love it for that.
THE EAGLE: Think of this as the Cheers of the South End. Although the name may put off some who expect a hardcore leather bar experience, it's more about the friendly ambiance of Jack, the longtime proprietor, that keeps people coming here to tell (and make) stories.
FRITZ: Who is there for the game of pick-up or to be picked up? Sometimes it's difficult to tell, but It does make sense that one of the best gay sports bars is in a city that loves its teams (and has so many college boys trying to figure things out once they come out). Located in the ground floor of the Chandler Inn, it's a fave for all stripes.
RED SQUARE: You'll get an upclose and personal feel for the beat of this town on Red Square's dance floor, a space populated largely by college kids and the odd hippie, all of whom only enhance the experience.
(A flaming good time at Roscoe's in Chicago.)
ROSCOE'S : Visited by gays from all over the country, this low-key Boystown favorite celebrated its 26th birthday this year. With pumping pop beats, enjoy a taste of Midwestern man-candy while you cruise the dance floor or chat it up with friends by the fireplace, in the garden, or at its Sidewalk Cafe (depending on the season).
BIG CHICKS: A laid back atmosphere reins supreme, but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of burly boys dancing and having a good time on the dance floor. But it also has cheap pitchers of beer and good bar grub.
THE CELL BLOCK: Unsurprisingly, bears and butch men dominate the scene at The Cell Block, but fun and games can be had by all at the club's dart boards and Wii stations.
HAMBURGER MARY'S: The main level hosts the first gay restaurant franchise of its kind, Hamburger Mary’s, serving sandwiches, burgers, mac and cheese, and meatloaf. But, above this Chicago staple is a cute purple attic laden with ample bar space for entertainment ranging from cabaret shows to weekend DJs and "MaryOke!" Next door is Mary’s Rec room to enjoy the game and drink Mary’s own microbrew with friends.
MINIBAR: Attentive and, more importantly, hot model-esque guys serve your every whim—from delicious cotton candy martinis to paninis. In the heart of the gay filled Halsted Street, walk upstairs and tilt your head back for a stunning light show in this attractive, modern lounge.
SPIN: Head here to dance the work-related stress away on two dance floors and mingle with a diverse crowd. You can play pool in the back room of the chic first floor or walk upstairs to watch TV with drink in hand. Make sure to check in on Wednesdays and Thursdays for $1 drinks.
SIDETRACK: Sidetrack is undoubtedly the best bar/club this side of Boystown (or in all of the Midwest), a massive venue with bars to suit any mood littered throughout (and an open terrace), Sidetrack offers delish alcoholic slurpees if you’re strapped for cash but crave a buzz. They don't make 'em like this anymore—and that's good, or we'd all get into a lot of trouble.
UNION CAFE : The former video bar is now a popular restaurant and lounge located in the heart of the Short North, and brings a mixed crowd (tourists, straights) for some local grubbing or perhaps for the outdoor patio with a bar that makes delicious drinks. Stop by any of the theme days during the week such as Showtunes Sundays, or Long Island Thursdays for the hot roaming shot boys.
THE ROUND-UP SALOON:
For over 30 years, this country gay bar boosts some of the best line dancers and hottest cowboys around the Lone Star State. Be prepared for strangers dragging you onto the dance floor for shirtless line-dancing and two-stepping. And don't forget your Stetsons and Wrangers. Yee haw!
THE TIN ROOM: It's all about the go-go boys and their poles at this Dallas hotspot, which allows anyone 18 and over, which means plenty of young guns can be found roaming the expansive, dimply lit space.
CLUB MASQUE: Gays, girls, straights, bis, and drag queens aplenty dance the night away under one roof. Strippers, drag shows, reasonably priced drinks, and theme nights hosted by talented DJs. The ‘Masque wrestling team’ performs every Friday night.
THE DENVER WRANGLER: A friendly crowd, the Wrangler has been serving up cold ones for 15 years and continues to pack 'em in for the Sunday beer blast. But it really comes down to the staff, and the locals love these barmen. Expect furry men and the guys who love them—no matter what night you show up on their doorstep.
DBAR: This gay-friendly restaurant bar serves eclectic, to-die-for food, but the mellow and welcoming ambiance set by color-changing lights, music, and nouveau decor makes for an all around great evening. The only peeve is the lack of a maitre d’ and the oh-so-few male waiters.
FT. LAUDERDALE, Florida
THE MANOR: Modeled after West Hollywood's The Abbey, so of course the huge dance floor is always full of sweaty men.
THE LODGE: The Lodge is the place to go dancing in Frederick, Maryland -- on weekends, at least. Though they do occasionally open Monday for special holiday events, time at The Lodge is restricted to Thursday-Saturdays, which is alright, because you can pack a lifetime into one evening spent here.
BROWNSTONE LOUNGE: Tucked between row houses and behind an unassuming exterior, the Brownstone's more than a standby. Divey, amiable and inclusive, the Brownstone is a staple, one that makes visiting Harrisburg that much more worth it.
HULA'S BAR AND LEI STAND: You haven't partied until you've partied a block away from Mamala Bay, with the Pacific breezes waving through the palm trees and amongst the bevy of beautiful men who cruise through this Hawaiian must-see.
METEOR: It's all about banquets, go-go boys and wild dance moves at this warehouse-sized space that proves every thing is bigger in Texas.
MONTROSE MINING COMPANY: Rather than the hip factor, this is the down-homey place—wood barrels, floors—to be. You'll probably be more comfortable wearing your leather and Levis, but we're sure everyone is invited to this party. As long as you keep it unpretentious. And don't mind a bit of sweaty back hair near your beer.
SOUTH BEACH: Don't be confused, this Houston club is located in the heart of the city's uber-gay Montrose district and it channels the thump-thump beat you'd expect for a place named after a Miami getaway. Expect packed dance floors and college boys aplenty (and straight guys and gals looking for their own sort of action).
PARTNER'S: An amalgamation of modern design, traditional Texas chow and low down dirty drag queens, Partner's is a guilty pleasure through and through, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, honey.
KEY WEST, Florida
BOURBON STREET PUB: Have you ever been allowed to swim naked while at a bar? We didn't think so. But that's one of the many things allowed in the clothing-optional garden bar. Its other claim to fame is being the host of the annual New Year's Eve "high-heeled shoe" drop from the building's second floor, featuring the glamorous Miss Sushi!
BOBBY'S MONKEY BAR: This no-frills spot is where the locals go to enjoy their karaoke, maybe a game of pool (or Wii these days) or just sit and hear stories. Looking to find one fo the local gay luminaries? Look not further, they're probably sidled up to the bar next to you enjoying a stiff one.
BOLT: Classier than many dance clubs, Bolt in Lafayette, Louisiana, is anything but pretentious. Don't let exposed brick and velveteen curtains fool you, Bolt's open to all, and would love to have you.
LAS VEGAS, Nevada
KRAVE MASSIVE: Calling itself the “world’s largest gay bar,” and featuring Ibiza-sized danced floors, five themed dance rooms, three bars, two stages, a VIP lounge, a martini lounge, a gift shop (it’s Vegas remember) and a theater, and more go-go boys than you can shake your stick at, Krave Massive may be the biggest homo pleasure place on Earth.
THE BAR COMPLEX : The gay crown jewel of historic downtown Lexington, this converted speakeasy radiates faded glamour and genteel manners with its three bars, huge upstairs dance floor, and plenty of dark nooks to enjoy gentleman callers or a mint julep. Bonus: When a Kentucky boy asks for your number, he always says please.
LONG BEACH, California
MINE SHAFT: The name may conjure images of steel and steam, and while you may find some of that here, the wooden exterior is closer to lumberjack than leather daddy, and is essential for the well-rounded Long Beach experience.
PARADISE: A piano bar with a well-rounded and thoughtful menu, Paradise is more than a great bar, it's a philanthropic vehicle and regularly hosts auctions and dinners for AIDS charities as well as the local food bank.